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Wikipedia continues to push Beijing to lift its ban: founder

2018/07/19 14:37:30

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales

Taipei, July 19 (CNA) The founder of Wikipedia said Thursday that he continues to push the Chinese government to lift its on-and-off block of the free online encyclopedia, but stressed that he will not sacrifice his principles in exchange for entering the Chinese market.

"We will continue to engage with the Chinese government to see if we can get the block lifted, but of course this is a long-term issue, this isn't something we are going to solve overnight," Jimmy Wales said during an interview in Taipei.

"The one thing that we have always been clear on is we won't compromise on our principles in order to gain access to the Chinese market," he added.

He said he is aware that many companies have done so to enter the Chinese market. "It is a complicated decision for them, I would not say if it is right or wrong in general."

Chinese Wikipedia was launched in May 2001 but was blocked on June 3, 2004, ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989. Since then, the website has been blocked and restored several times in China for unknown reasons.

Asked how Wikipedia helps to bring peace between contributors from different regions, such as those from Taiwan and China, Wales said he believes that if people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait can regularly talk and have exchanges with each other, they can better understand each other and may someday resolve misunderstandings.

He said he was in Taiwan many years ago and met a local volunteer who was assigned to drive him around to do TV interviews.

"One of the things he said to me is that he was raised in a very strongly Taiwanese nationalist household and was taught from when he was very young that mainland Chinese are brainwashed and know nothing about history," he noted.

But he changed his thoughts about Chinese after he started to work with them at Wikipedia, he said.

Wales said the Taiwanese told him that "I still think they (mainland Chinese) are wrong, but on some things they kind of have a point."

Describing this as progress, Wales said it is the approach to making peace and come to possible solutions and understanding between people who have significant disagreements.

"In the end, the knowledge and accepting the facts of history and understanding disagreements are incredibly powerful for generating solutions, whatever those solutions might be," he said.

Wales was in Taiwan to speak at the Digital Innovation Forum 2018.

The APEC Business Advisory Council-sponsored forum, jointly organized by Taiwan and Papua New Guinea, is being held July 19-20 at the Taipei International Convention Center, focused on artificial intelligence, scientific and financial technology, and digital innovation.

(By Joseph Yeh)
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